Where is the ‘Pak’ in ‘Pakistan’?
Last week at a boardroom luncheon in Sydney, many people asked me about the floods in Pakistan, gave their condolences and shared their views on the humanitarian disaster. One person actually asked me, ‘What is the meaning of Pakistan’, and ‘What does it stand for?’
‘Pak’ means pure and ‘Stan’ means land, so essentially it means land of the pure, I retorted almost robotically. After I answered that question I thought to myself, either I would make a great politician or a great diplomat because although the answer was correct, my sentiments didn’t match my answer as I continued to smile and make excuses for why there was so much of Pakistan to be salvaged, restored, preserved and promoted. Deep down, I had a guilty parasite of conscience making me sick to the stomach. This time even I didn’t think I had the momentum of positivity to swing the pendulum of hope in the right direction. Recently with all the doom and gloom surrounding Pakistan I wrote an article on Pakistan being a symbol of survival and how we should concentrate on its strengths as a nation: adversity, survival, endurance, courage, faith and hope.
However, what happened a week ago with the Sialkot public killings has shaken all my foundations of what I stand for, what I believe in and the core of my character. I am an optimist and I am not a quitter, I have always lived by the rule ‘never give up’ and I know these are also the traits that keep Pakistan alive.
Since seeing the footage of the killings, I cannot make excuses anymore, how do I defend or explain this latest incident to those who ask, and what angle of optimism can I implore?
Pakistan, the land of the pure. Almost. The land of the pure corruption, the land of the pure hatred, pure violence, pure demise, pure injustice.
That is one way of describing it, but in my mind I think of it as Slakistan (a slack country because of its slack governance, and a lakh reasons why we lack any kind of purity) or Darkistan (why instead of going forwards, we are retreating backwards).
I, like the rest of the nation am sickened, disgusted, and absolutely lost for words at the barbaric bashings in Sialkot. In this day and age, where animal cruelty is given as much importance as human rights, how the hell does this: firstly happen, secondly in public, thirdly video taped, fourthly with policemen joining in, fifthly no one stopping it, and sixth no justice?
I’m not overly religious, but I do know that Ramazan is the holiest month of the year. It is a time for reflecting, a time for forgiving and a time for salvation. I know in the month of Ramazan, I think twice before even hurting a fly, spider or insect, yet how can this mass crowd of Muslim men beat the life out of the 15 and 19 year old brothers, one of whom was a hafiz-e-Quran. How could these men have opened their iftaar knowing they had just killed two boys, how could they go home and look at their own sons in the eyes and not see the souls of those two brothers?
In Australia recently, a couple of boys were arrested for torturing some kittens at a train station. That had the whole nation in shock. Here, we are talking about beating to death two young human beings. I watched as these boys, half clothed, were kicked, beaten mercilessly, desperate for someone to stop the injustice. No, it was spectators at a gladiatorial game, it was as if the more blood they smelt the more excited they became. They weren’t going to stop until they had the finality of death with the two brothers like hapless helpless mosquito’s buzzing around hanging on to their final breaths and final moments of freedom. The more dying movements from the struggling boys caused more men to join in, including the police and even a young child at one stage. It was entertainment, it was thrilling, and it was a blood sport. It was ok, because they weren’t related to them. It was ok, because these boys had supposedly committed a robbery, and it was ok because they were supposedly ‘upholding’ the law.
So here too is an argument from that perspective. I have been a victim of a gang of thieves in Pakistan, held hostage in my home with a gun to my head and robbed of all my jewellery, money and valuables. If those people were ever caught, I would never even think of subjecting them to physical torture, let alone death – and this is with the knowledge and certainty of their guilt because I was there. How do we know those two boys were guilty of the alleged crime, when apparently they were returning home with only bags containing cricket equipment? If anything, I am grateful to my robbers that they didn’t kill me when they so easily could have as is the norm for many similar incidents in Pakistan. As we all know, the value of a human life in Pakistan is nothing, if anything it is a burden on society.
The other tragic part of this case is that no one is prepared to tackle the issue, talk about it, deal with it or try and even heal the wound. What about the spiritual, ethical, and moral medicine that is required to move forward? The media have their hands full reporting on the floods and putting a human face on the tragedy to encourage immediate monetary and aid response. The politicians are avoiding the incident by concentrating on all the work they aren’t doing for the floods, through empty speeches and empty promises.
In Australia we have just had a federal election with the result being a hung Parliament. I think the politicians in Pakistan should hang their heads in shame for sitting back and doing nothing, and for letting the land of the pure become the land of the poor.
Someone was right when they said Pakistan was born in Sialkot when Allama Iqbal the great poet and spiritual founder of Pakistan was born there, and Pakistan died in Sialkot with the brutal bashing and public murder of the two brothers. Allama Iqbal himself was right when one of his poetic phrases turned out to be a prediction: “Nations are born in the hearts of poets, they prosper and die in the hands of politicians.”
Aisha Amjad is a lawyer, writer and political/media adviser currently based in Australia.
The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.